My ex partner says they will not go to mediation


This is something I hear often and this blog looks at possible ways to engage your ex partner in mediation.

This is something I often hear, I would come to mediation but my ex won’t so there’s no point trying.

In many cases, the ex has told the other person they won’t come to mediation. This is usually an emotional response or a way to try to avoid what needs talking about. In some cases the person contacting me for mediation has their own fears about coming to mediation and rely upon their expectations of their ex partner's response to avoid mediation.

Opening the door to mediation is scary. You are meeting with a professional, who you do not know, to talk about the most personal things in your lives. I find that by having a conversation with each half of the couple or sometimes just an email exchange it allays many of those fears and both are willing to try mediation. It’s fear of the unknown which means the barriers go up initially.

Other reasons why someone may seem unwilling to try mediation is also fear based, but it’s fear of losing control of the situation. In some families this fear of losing control will be because there is a controlling person in the relationship. That is something I then need to assess as to whether it is suitable for that couple to come into mediation, how the mediation should be structured if so and how I address the power imbalance when the couple are in mediation. 

However, the fear of losing control is also about not knowing what the future will hold and having to face up to realities that they do not want to. This could be about the house having to be sold or as fundamental as not wanting to accept that the relationship is over. Sadly, if one person is determined that the relationship is over then they can move things forward. Ultimately, they can force things to move forward by issuing a court application and then control is put into the hands of a judge. Mediation is a much gentler way to bring about acceptance that life is going to be changing.

It is a requirement that a mediator should contact the other person and invite them to mediation. I find that if I contact the reluctant ex partner to invite them to mediation it removes the emotions which are raised by the other half of the couple raising it. It highlights that one party is ready to move forward with the dealing with the separation and has consulted a professional to take that step. The other party then begins to realise that they can either engage and try mediation or could eventually face a court application which will deal with the same main issues as mediation is there to address.

Your ex may be telling you that they won’t go to mediation, but let the mediator contact them and invite them to find out more about mediation. You will be surprised at how many are then willing to try mediation. And if, deep down, it’s you that is worried about mediation with your ex partner then pick up the phone and talk to the mediator and see if they can reassure.

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